The Royal Parks is seeking volunteers to help with an archaeological dig to excavate the site of the former 17th century Old Keeper’s Cottage in Greenwich Park from 4 to 15 July.
The Old Keeper’s Cottage, or Lodge, stood close to Queen Elizabeth’s Oak, near the centre of the park and was demolished in 1853. From a map of the park dated 1695, a building similar to that demolished in 1853 is illustrated.
The three-year project, run in partnership with the Friends of Greenwich Park, began in 2013 and followed the 2010 discovery of tiles near the site of the former cottage.
This year will be the final year of the project, and findings so far include a Roman brooch dating back to 2nd century AD, post medieval pottery and a Victorian watch winder. In addition, the annual excavations have built up a good picture of the Old Keeper’s Cottage, with two buildings identified as well as part of the boundary around the complex. The buildings appear to be comprised of a mixture of brick masonry and timber frames, with tiled roofs.
The 2016 dig will concentrate on attempting to define the outlines of the main buildings – including the Old Keeper’s Cottage itself, and at least two sets of outbuildings.
On the 13 July, from 3-6pm members of the public are invited to learn more about the project by meeting the archaeologists and handling some of the artefacts dug up.
Toni Assirati, Head of Education and Community Engagement for The Royal Parks, said: “Dating back to 1427, Greenwich Park is perhaps the most historic of London’s eight Royal Parks. It is the site of two scheduled ancient monuments; the Roman Temple and Anglo-Saxon Cemetery and is part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.
"We already know a lot about Greenwich Park’s history but much remains to be discovered about its social history. This project will hopefully help us find out more about the lives of the people who worked and lived in the park
“These annual digs have also provided an invaluable opportunity to engage and inspire local schoolchildren in the field of archaeology. Like real life archaeologists they have been involved in digging, sieving, and recording their finds.”
Graham Keevill, Director of Keevill Heritage Ltd, who is leading the dig on behalf of The Royal Park said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for people to get involved in a really fascinating piece of archaeological and historical research.
“It’s not often that people get the chance to work on important sites like this, as so much archaeological work nowadays is tied in with big development projects where tight deadlines are everything.
“It’s great that The Royal Parks and Friends of Greenwich Park have set up this hands-on project specifically for the local community.”
During the dig, the area and nearby trees will be marked off by an informal enclosure to protect the site and ensure care of nearby roots.
If you are interested in volunteering email Sue Yates of the Friends of Greenwich Park via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07867 801069. Mornings run from 10.30 to 1 pm and the afternoon slot is from 1 pm until 4 pm. Volunteers can give as much or as little time as they have.